Sunday, August 21, 2016

Silent Frog Vigil

“Where’s da fwog?” Charlie asked me.  I reached out to him and he put his chubby hand in mine.  “Da fwog.  Where’s da fwog?”

I looked across the campfire at his mom.  “He can hear the frogs down by the creek and he wants to go find one.” 

“Oh!  Is it okay with you if I take him there?”

“Sure!” Amy said.  This is what family camp is all about.  My children are teenagers but during family camp weekend, I get to take care of a  two-year-old again, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

I’m not sure why Charlie picked me out of the campfire circle as the person who would be able to help him find a frog at the creek but there’s no way I could say no to this kid.  His eyes are like two big chocolate drops and his cheeks are scoops of butterscotch pudding. 

I took his sticky marshmallow hand in mine and we walked towards the creek.  On the way there he stopped to recruit one more frog hunter.  “Where’s da fwog?” he said to Jack, our ministerial intern from Vanderbilt.  “I don’t know,” he replied as he too took Charlie’s hand.

Just down the hill, Jack, Charlie and I paused at the stone bridge that crosses the creek and listened for the frogs.  We could hear one upstream and Charlie led the way to find it. 

A few feet upstream was a flat rock that had space for Charlie and me to sit while we tried to find the frog.  Jack perched a few feet away on a higher lookout rock, also intently trying to find the source of the croaking. 

Every few seconds the frog croaked.  We knew we were close.

In the distance we could hear the rest of the campers singing campfire songs.  The smoke from the fire floated in the air, mixed with the caramel scent of roasted marshmallows and fertile whispers of springtime in Tennessee.  The earth was just waking up after a long winter and far below the surface the roots were stretching in the dark soil, pushing up flowers and the scent of another chance.

Another chance.  Another chance to try.  Another chance to get close.  Another chance to get it right.  Another chance to find what we were looking for.  Another chance. 

Oak trees stretched their arms above us like an embrace.  They held us as we sat in silent frog vigil.  Between the branches we could see full silver clouds above, their underbellies lit up by the light of the full moon. 

As we waited quietly for the frogs Charlie tossed stones into the water and delighted in the splash as each one hit the creek.  The moonlight hovered around his head like a gentle halo, and I was … there.  I was there.  In that moment all I did was be there. 

Okay fine.  I also stressed a bit.  I was stressed because Charlie had chosen me to help him find the frogs and so far we hadn’t seen one.  I wanted to deliver.  I wanted to be a wise adult who could make this cherub’s frog dreams come true.  And I was failing on that front. 

Eventually Charlie’s mom came to find him because the campfire was dying down and it was time for him to go to bed and dream about frogs. 

Maybe I dreamed about frogs too, because when I woke up the next morning I had an obvious revelation. 

Sometimes we can’t see something,
and yet we have found it